Saturday, 25 October 2014


A few years ago when buying organic food the lady at the till told me that she could not afford to buy it. My response was to explain that we did it for health reasons and that as we didn't go to the pub or theatre or cinema, good food was what we could enjoy. A doctor when diagnosing ME (chronic fatigue) advised a diet cutting out all 'e' numbers! So many folk want to buy food as cheaply as possible, fuelled by the supermarket wars, not realising that it is not usually the supermarkets that take the cut but the farmers!
I believe that my tremour is the result of the cheap food I ate back in the sixties, seventies and eighties - there is the saying 'we are what we eat'. My tremour is benign and not Parkinsons but because of my tendency towards asthma I cannot take the usual pills but have found some that seem to take the edge of it - until I get into a social setting! It is ok if it is dinner and I'm not driving, as a glass of wine works wonders but that is no good if you are having breakfast in a hotel before driving a hundred miles! My bacon and mushrooms I could spear with my fork - no trouble - but the scrambled egg refused to stay on my fork and flew off before it reached my mouth! but I was the only one in the dining room - hardly a social setting! in the end I gave up and copied my younger grandboy and used my fingers - job done! Methinks another visit to the docs to talk about what to do when my shakes go wild!

Friday, 24 October 2014

catalyst live14

I got there and it was brilliant! 
I've come away with thoughts yet to digest, some wonderful memories and a couple of books by two of the speakers! One of the books is the autobiography of Sir John Houghton. I was first encouraged to think responsibly about our planet by one of our lodgers thirty years ago and immediately changed my washing liquid and washing up liquid to a more environmentally friendly one. Since then we have changed our eating habits to organic food, grown without the chemicals that continue to damage our environment and our bodies. Over the years and through his Dartmoor blog, he has made me aware that we have already past the peak oil production - we now have less oil under the ground than we have already used up! Sir John, speaking just before lunch, made us aware that the oil companies are not at all worried by climate change and the melting of the icecaps as there is more oil to be found underneath. As we approached lunchtime I had a sick feeling in my stomach!
The day was interspersed by poems from Lucy Berry and I hope to use one or two of her poems in my next service.
The highlight of the day for me was the talk from Glen Marshall on Jazz. As well as being a co-principal of the Northern Baptist College, he also blows. He spoke and his talk was illustrated by the playing of a sax by one of his fellow blowers. It was loud and beautiful! His talk took me from smiles to tears, touching something deep within me.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

its been a funny week

I've arrived in Reading ready for Catalyst tomorrow. Having lived life to the full in past years I now have to take things a little easier, so I'm sitting in my hotel room having driven here this afternoon. I love driving which is good as Tuesday I drove back from a holiday in Kent and Essex, visiting my brother and his wife and also my elder son and family. We have a small camper van and camped just outside Canterbury. We were able to walk into town and thought it would be nice to have a short visit to the Cathedral; a little walk around with time to sit and pray but when we saw the entrance price, we decided that £19 was rather expensive for half an hour. I'm assured that the audio guide is excellent but we didn't want that amount of information. So we admired the gateway and walked away.
Yesterday I went to the village Coffee Club having stepped down as chairwoman, I am now the treasurer as no-one else wanted the job! I managed to get three loads of washing done, dried with a few items needing an iron. But why did I put the last load on this morning? with no time to dry ready for ironing! Sometimes I need to remember to engage brain!
Last year I came to Reading with a friend but woke on the day of Catalyst feeling awful and spent the whole day in bed, feeling better the next day to drive us home! Fortunately I have no sense of any bug having crept up on me, so hopefully I will get there tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

my ten favourite books

Over the last few weeks a number of my friends have posted their ten favourite books on facebook.  Some nominate friends to do likewise, usually stating that they should not think too hard.  I have not been nominated but thought it would be a good exercise.
I did have to think hard because didn't really start reading books until I was 38!
As a child I could not accept stories about animals who wore clothes and talked, but I did have a copy of 'Milly Molly Mandy'. Even so I much preferred pictures to words. I managed to go through school without reading a novel from cover to cover where, fortunately, English Literature was not a compulsory subject! My life was full of doing and making; as a child I knitted jumpers and made clothes for my dolls and for my friend's dolls. By the age of 9/10 I was knitting jumpers for myself and sewing my own clothes along with going to dancing lessons five times a week - no time for homework let alone reading!
My list of books:
1: However, I did have a copy of the Bible, given to me by my parents when aged six, when my Christmas list consisted of a Bible, hymnbook and gun! The gun was so I could play cowboys and indians with the two boys who lived up the road - this was much more fun than reading stories - we were acting them out! I later progressed from the Authorised Version to JB Phillips New Testament, then the Good News Bible (described by a tutor at college as the Mickey Mouse version!) and now I prefer the New Living Bible for my personal use.
2: The novel that got me reading was recommended by a friend who was lodging with us - 'The Magus' by John Fowles. I liken it to learning to swim by jumping in the deep end! (I still can't swim!)
3: 'Life and how to survive it' by John Cleese and Robin Skynner was published when I was a Marriage Guidance Counsellor. It is very easy to read, very helpful and is illustrated with many humorous cartoons.
4: When my faith took on a deeper understanding I read 'God of Surprises' by Gerard W Hughes.
5: 'My utmost for His highest' by Oswald Chambers - a book of daily devotions written in the early 20th century which still bring me up sharp. 
6: 'Holiness' by JC Ryle, written over a hundred years ago but I found it easy to read especially as he accepted women as equal.
7: At college a friend recommended 'The other side of silence' by Morton Kelsey.

And that's where my list ends although I have read all of Gerard W Hughes' books and many of Oswald Chambers' and Morton Kelsey's books but none have had such an impact as those seven. 
However, during the late 80s and 90s I avidly awaited the next novel by Susan Howatch with her 'Starbridge Cronicles' and 'Wonder Worker' trilogy. Today, I am devouring Robert Harris' latest; 'An officer and a spy', having read all but one of his previous novels.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

surprise, surprise!

We were invited to a surprise 50th birthday party at the weekend of someone who was in the youth group when I was one of the leaders. We have stayed in contact over the last 30 years, mainly by Christmas cards but more recently we meet regularly at a cafe halfway between our homes, having both moved to Wales; her shortly after her marriage and us more recently
I know her parents and both her brothers and sisters-in-law but wasn't expecting to know anyone else. However, when I looked at the table plan, I recognised the names of others on our table; two of which were also in the youth group and the two other ladies were school friends whom I didn't recognise at first but realised that they were school friends of the birthday girl  who occasionally came to the larger youth group events.
Between the four ladies on our table, I had made two wedding dresses and a total of five bridesmaids dresses! with another wedding dress and three bridesmaids dresses in the room! and some still had their dresses all these years later.
It was lovely to reminisce and also to catch up on each other's news.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

there's life in the old gal yet!

well I hope there is in me, although I do need to rest not necessarily the day after I have done something but usually the day after that! On Sunday I took the service at Chapel and was fine on Monday thoroughly enjoying book club (but I don't think anyone thought it was a good book!) but yesterday although I had planned on going to Cardiff for a day out, I decided to postpone my visit till later in the week and instead just take it easy. Taking it easy often means doing some sewing!
I had saved some full length and matching shorter curtains from a previous house, some of which were then used for a while by my eldest and some used here temporarily in a bedroom and are now being altered to fit our conservatory which came with the house. Unfortunately it neither has roof opening windows or enough fan lights and can get very hot especially in this glorious summer we are having!
And then as I was at full speed on the old sewing machine, all of a sudden with the actual machine still going, it stopped sewing! The drive belt had broken!
Fortunately, I know a 'man who does' and he was able to replace the drive belt with one I had spare when the last one snapped about 15 years ago, when the machine was already over 25 years old. I had bought the machine back in the early 1970s with the proceeds of making yet another wedding dress - up until then I had been using my Mum's Singer which she had had 2nd hand for her 21st birthday. I had the handle removed and a machine put in its place.
Just after the first drive belt broke, I again used the proceeds from a large wedding order to buy an up to date machine which did all the fancy embroidery stitches, as I needed to always have a spare machine if I was making an dress for a certain date!
But after a few years, I reverted to my old machine as it is made of metal so is sturdy and fast! and I'm sure that there are more years in her yet!

Monday, 7 July 2014

I'm here again!

I realise that I have not done much blogging over recent months. It's not that I have not got anything to say, but when I do have, I seem to be very busy. And when I have time, nothing much has happened!
This morning I am off to our village book club. The book we have been reading caused much discussion at our summer barbeque a couple of weeks ago. The author writes about her experiences growing up in the valleys and then working as a nurse in our local hospital. At first I found the book fascinating but then became quiet worried because although she has disguised people she met by changing their names - it seems that it is obvious to those who have also worked in the hospital, as to whom she is referring!
I look forward to continuing our discussion!
Some of you will know that I am a diabetic - not through eating the wrong foods but through the stress of the break-up of my first marriage. Each morning, and also at meal times, I inject myself - this is usually pain-free but sometimes as I pull out the needle it is followed by some blood. And this morning it did just that and as I reached for a tissue up my sleeve wile holding the injection pen with the other hand and also trying to hold my clean pale lavender coloured shirt out of the way... wait! I don't have three hands! the shirt slipped and I had a large blob of blood on my shirt.
One very useful trick I was taught by an elderly dress maker - actually I think she must have been younger than I am now - when I first when out to work in design studios as a sample maker was that your own saliva is the best thing to remove blood. I have lost count of the number of wedding dresses that I have suck! And my shirt this morning now has no sign of blood or being sucked.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I keep being surprised ...

.. by the chapel folk here! Today was the funeral of the mother of one of our members. Her Mum lived a good hour's drive away and a small service was held in their local Chapel of Rest for her friends and carers. An hour later there was a service in the crematorium just half an hour's drive away from us. Nine friends from our chapel (about half our usual congregation) joined the very small family group for the service. I am only aware of one of our ladies having actually met her Mum! But around here folk gather around to love and support those going through a tough time whether it is the loss of a loved one or any other family difficulty. I am surrounded by a lovely bunch of folk.

Monday, 5 May 2014

yesterday we shut up shop...

...just for the morning. We decided that we would not hold our usual service in the chapel but drive over the border into England and join in the service of one of the other churches in our Rural Churches group, where we heard Judy Cook speak about her work as a missionary in Thailand. I met Judy on her last visit back to the UK but this time she brought four of her fellow workers with her. Their English was far better than my Thai!
Hopefully I will meet Judy and her co-Thai-workers again next weekend when we are all planning to be at the Baptist Assembly.
One of our members who would not be able to cope with the journey and longer service went to our chapel to forward any who had not realised the change - or to give them the option of returning in the afternoon when we had our quarterly service of prayer for healing.
We are small in numbers; usually around 15 - 20 on a Sunday morning but 11 of us went to the morning service and 10 came in the afternoon. I'm not usually someone who counts heads, as I'm just as happy preaching to three or four as I am to fifty as I believe that those who need to hear what I believe God has given me to say will be there, but it was encouraging to have a good turn out for something different!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

at long last

It's nearly five years since we moved in here. When we first viewed the house we were rather disappointed to find that the previous occupants had moved the bathroom into one of the bedrooms and had also painted a mural over the whole of one wall and the door!
We moved the bathroom back to where it belonged (actually we got a couple of men to do it!) and the bedroom became a dumping ground for several years while we slowly worked out what fitted into the new house and what needed to find a new home. Over those years if we finished painting elsewhere and still had spare paint on the brush we would paint the excess over the mural!

And then about two years ago, I had time and energy to start turning the dumping ground into a proper bedroom but was halted by an unknown problem with our boiler. The painting was done (slowly!) but no carpet could be put down as many water pipes ran under the floor. At the end of last year a new boiler was installed and at the beginning of this year a carpet was put down.
And yesterday pictures were hung! The room is finished at last. The main bedroom still has to be decorated - I wonder how long that will take! The photo below shows the wall underneath which is the dark mural! My eagle-eyed daughter can still see the outline of the trees and 'castle'!  

And in case you are intrigued; the piece of furniture covered in an old green sheet is a zed-bed! Above the bed is an embroidered picture titled 'Fishing in fairy-land' made for me by my Mum when I was little and hung on my bedroom wall until the day I was married!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


I forgot it was mine this morning! and was reminded when 'someone' started singing, "you're as old as, you're as old as me!" "Please don't remind me!" 
I've got to that age when I cannot believe how many years I have lived!
I celebrated quite quietly, going out to coffee this morning and having my favourite meal at lunchtime - fish curry. As a child, our family didn't have the money to have parties but we were able to choose what we all ate for dinner and my choice was always cod curry. I think my Mum got the recipe from Philip Harben, who was a celebrity chef even before the days of Fanny Cradock! The rest of the day has been taken up with doing the washing, letter writing, answering emails and watching a bit of tele while knitting! Gone are the days of parties and big meals out, I enjoyed them but I think that in just a few ways I'm showing my age!